Skip to main content

2005 Inauguration Address by Lawrence H. Summers

Inauguration of President Kim B. Clark

0:00 / 0:00

President Hinckley, members of the BYU-Idaho community, honored guests and friends: I have had the good fortune to know Kim Clark since our days together as graduate students some thirty years ago. And so I join you today not only as someone pleased to bring good wishes from the large and diverse family of American colleges and universities, and from President Clark’s alma mater and longtime professional home. I join you as someone who has admired this extraordinary person, and learned from him, and valued his wisdom and friendship, for most of my life. My own good fortune, and Harvard’s, is now all of yours. As the months and years pass, you will know more and more what I mean.

Kim served with remarkable distinction for the past decade as Dean of Harvard Business School. With him, the school conceived of itself less as a school about business per se than as a school devoted to the art and craft of leadership. And in him, the school found not only an exponent of strong, principled, creative, and humane leadership, but its embodiment. Now that we face the daunting task of seeking Kim’s successor at Harvard, and as I solicit advice from the many people who have benefitted from his service, I hear time and time again their hopes for a leader with a strikingly familiar set of characteristics:

Someone who models integrity in all that he, or she, says and does.

Someone with a strong moral core and a deep sense of values.

Someone with a passion for education and a reverence for its power to change people’s lives. Someone who prizes not only intelligence but imagination.

Someone who sees higher education not just as a means of professional development but as a singular opportunity for personal growth – and for cultivating an ethic of service to the community, the nation, and the world.

Someone who brings people together in a spirit of common purpose – who lifts their sights and helps them to achieve even more than they might have dreamed.

Someone who inspires each of us, in our own way, to be not only good but great – and not only great but good.

Someone like Kim Clark.

Now, that someone is here with you. Bittersweet news for Harvard – but wonderful news for your university, and for all who care about American higher education and the character of those who lead its institutions. In the classrooms and corridors of Harvard Business School, which I’m afraid to say are not jargon-free, it is often said that a certain organization stands at an “inflection point” – a special moment of opportunity and potential transformation. From all I have heard and read about BYU-Idaho, this proud institution stands at such a moment in its history. You could ask for no better leader and partner in charting your future together.

In speaking of the school he led so ably, he often captured its mission in a simple yet powerful phrase: to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. In Kim Clark, you will enjoy all the blessings of such a leader. Each of you, and all of you together, will have a superb guide in finding new and exciting ways to make a difference in the world. May he, and all of you, look forward to a great adventure. Congratulations, Kim and Sue; congratulations, members of the BYU-Idaho community; and many thanks to everyone here for the privilege of joining you today.